Ski Touring Boots: Atomic Backland Carbon Light vs Salomon MTN Explore

Post by blogger | November 4, 2015      
Carbon Light Mtn Explore

Salomon MTN Explore — Atomic Backland Carbon Light

I’ve been working with WildSnow on different types of gear comparisons. The situation is perfect. Our shop, Cripple Creek Backcountry, is only a short bicycle ride from Lou’s office. So we’re not only sharing evaluation gear but we can sit down in person and work on editorial concepts over an espresso or six-string.

This time, let’s go for a bit of contrast in our gear chatter. Although the Atomic Backland Carbon Light and Salomon MTN Explore are somewhat different types of touring boots they are the lightest in their respective families. They also represent a somewhat new chapter in ski touring gear, as two pretty much “historic” alpine boot manufacturers have finally gotten it right and designed backcountry ski boots with more than just a walk mode for the parking lot.

(Yes, it would make sense to compare the Atomic Backland Carbon with the Dynafit TLT6 Performance. After all, the boots are within 50 grams weight of each other and possess many of the same features. Do we feel another comparo coming on?)

Companies: Both boot makers were absorbed by the mega outdoors company Amer Sports in the last 25 years, but managed to keep their uniqueness in touring boot design. Salomon was founded in French Alps in 1947 and acquired by Amer Sports in 2004. Atomic is an Austrian company founded in 1955 and acquired by Amer in 1994.

Weights: Carbon Light comes in at 20% lighter than other boots of its class while the MTN Explore comes in much heavier. You can debate comfort and ease of touring as compensating somewhat for added weight (just listen to the sales rep pitch), but the scale doesn’t lie. Salomon MTN Explore is 1462 grams; Atomic Backland Carbon Light comes in at 1065 grams (without removable tongue).

Buckles: Remember when everyone wanted 4 buckles on a boot? While the industry still categorizes and sells boots as “4-buckle!” we shy away from describing boots by the number of buckles. Really, if the boot fits and skis, who cares how many buckles it has. In any case, MTN Explore has 2 buckles and a power strap, while Carbon Light has 2 buckles and an optional power strap. Note that Atomic adds a wire pressure distribution system to the lower buckle; necessary if you run without the tongue.

Design: Both boots have excellent range of cuff-walk motion with a one-flick walk mode that tours adequately without loosening the buckles (and even better with the buckles loosened or opened, as with nearly any other touring boot). Both boots have top buckles that fit neatly against the cuff and under your ski pants.

Walk features

Walk features

Shell design type: MTN Explore is an alpine overlap style boot with internalized walk mode in the heel. Atomic Carbon Light is a lightweight tongue styled AT boot with an external walk-ski lever similar to many other ski touring boots.

Cuff articulation: MTN Explore has a good 62 degrees, but mostly in the rearward direction. That’s fine for mountain touring, but having more forward range is helpful when you really stride out in terrain with mixed angles. Carbon Light gives you 74 degrees of cuff motion biased to the front though you get plenty of rearward range as well. In terms of learning from this comparison, the cuff flex difference between an overlap boot and tongue type boot is an obvious contrast and area of compromise. Put simply, the overlap as a rule will ski more “alpine like” than the tongue boot.

MTN Explore has more backward range of motion.

MTN Explore has more backward range of motion.

Way more forward range of motion for the shell with the Carbon Light

Way more forward range of motion for the shell with the Carbon Light.

Liners: Salomon MTN Explore has a beefier (and heavier) liner that’s still plenty warm. Atomic Carbon Light offers a feather light heat moldable liner and the shell molds to some degree when heated per Atomic’s fit specifications. (More about the ‘Memory Fit’ heat molding process.) The Atomic liner has “breathability” features that help reduce moisture buildup, but as with other boot boasting breathable liners your mileage may vary due to the reality of a non-breathing shell. Atomic also states their liner is “washable,” but in our experience you can wash any boot liner if you do it gently by hand in warm (not hot) water, and dry with an air blower boot dryer.

Notice the ventilation holes on the orange Carbon Light compared with the added girth for warmth on the MTN Explore.

Notice the ventilation holes on the orange Carbon Light compared with the added girth for warmth on the MTN Explore.

Fit: To give you some background, I wear a size 10.5 street shoot, yet my foot measures 106mm in its widest part. Although I am not a downhill racer (or even a great skier) I can still comfortably jam my foot into a 26.5. For these two boots I did upsize into a 27. Both boots have done away with the myth of the half size. The 27.0/27.5 is the same exact boot and neither one calls it any different.

Don’t be fooled by the MTN Explore claimed 98mm last. I still swam in the size I tested — if I ski it this year I would definitely downsize. The boot felt high volume especially above the instep. All this business about last size (“98mm low volume high performance!”) being used as a sales tool is often B.S.; the boot fits, or it doesn’t. If not, you change sizes or brand-model, and you work with a boot fitter if necessary.

Carbon Light was comfortable out of the box for me, I never heat molded the liner or shell. My business partner Randy also uses a size 27 and went through the whole molding process. One day I accidentally grabbed his boots and went swimming again, proof that the molding process does work. Note that the Atomic mold process seems to be a one way street and results in more shell volume, so if you are going to bake the shells be very careful with your sizing.

How to pair with skis

Salomon MTN Explore: This boot toured wonderfully despite being a “heavy boot.” I paired it with the heaviest ski in our whole collection, the Kastle TX107 (I use “heavy” as a term of art, as both the skis and boot are still quite light by some standards). I did a couple days of true backcountry ski touring, but I also took the boot to the resort. When it dumps and the backcountry gets scary it is time to uphill at Aspen Highlands. The boot skinned well, crushed the Highlands Bowl hike and drove the 107mm wasted ski with no problem. If you are a 50/50 skier in and out of the area, this is going to be a terrific boot.

Salomon MTN Explore in Highlands Bowl, Colorado.

Salomon MTN Explore in Highlands Bowl, Colorado.

Atomic Backland Carbon Light: This boot was the ski mountaineering machine for me last spring. I skied steep lines matched with a pair of Atomic Ultimate 78s for corn farming. I went as wide as a pair of DPS Wailer 99s for our local resort closing party and skied them in bounds. Although this was a lot of ski for a light boot on hard snow, for powder slarving the Backland Carbon Light would definitely do the job with a ski up to around 100mm width.

Atomic Backland Carbon Light in Pearl Couloir, Cathedral Peak

Atomic Backland Carbon Light in Pearl Couloir, Cathedral Peak.

There you go, an experiment in comparison we hope will help with shopping decisions and overall knowledge of what’s out there in ski touring boots.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


64 Responses to “Ski Touring Boots: Atomic Backland Carbon Light vs Salomon MTN Explore”

  1. Andy November 4th, 2015 10:20 am

    ROM degree estimates as a total have officially become useless in a world where ~70% of that range can come from rearward travel in a touring boot. Everyone is different, but forward ROM is way more important to me, as going steeply up is more common in the Cascades than flat approaches where rearward ROM shines. Thanks for acknowledging the bias in the ROM between these two.

  2. Jason November 4th, 2015 10:48 am

    Can anyone compare the flex, especially lateral flex, of the Backland Carbon and the base Backland? I tried on the Backland Carbons in my local shop an might order the base version.

    I’m looking for an AT boot for splitboarding after failing to get a good fit from Dynafits on my very difficult navicular bone. If the basic Backland is close to the lateral flex of a TLT5 mountain then I think I’ve got a new boot to try.

    Also, any ideas how the flex locking bar on the heel of the Backland will fit with an automatic crampon heel lever?


  3. Lou Dawson 2 November 4th, 2015 11:16 am

    Andy, I’m glad you pointed that out and yes in working on this with Doug. I noticed he’d covered that and we tried to emphasize in the final edit. Side-by-side comparo photos are probably best for comparing ROM; we’ll keep trying to do that. I agree that for real ski touring forward cuff motion range is super important. It’s easy to get the forward range in a tongue boot, especially with the removable tongue. Way more difficult of a problem with overlap boots. Just like it was 40 years ago, loosening the boot seems to be key. Funny how slowly things really improve in some ways… Lou

  4. Lou Dawson 2 November 4th, 2015 11:20 am

    Jason, the carbon and non-carbon cuff boots sometimes are not very different, it’s more a matter of getting the same stiffness with a little less weight. Not sure about Backland. Doug and Randy have both versions perhaps they can compare for you.

    That said, can’t you carpet test both boots at shop?


  5. swissiphic November 4th, 2015 12:07 pm

    I know it ain’t the Mtn. Explore but thought I’d add some observations…. I purchased the Salomon Mtn. Lab boot and performed a real world A/B comparison (merc on left foot, Solly on right foot) with some well used Dynafit Mercuries with flex stops ground off and stiffening tongue sliced down the middle from top for two inches to ‘tune’ the forward flex in ski mode. This was on an early season ski two days ago. The day featured a full smorgassboard of ski touring boot test conditions. A 1.5km approach hike with skis on pack that featured rolling on trail terrain, some minor bushwahcky balancy walking on slippery ground, mud, rocks and talus, steeper stepping on variable bigger blocky talus, low/moderate angle regular old plain jane skinning, rest step steep straight up the fall line skinning and downhilling in variable snow; windslab, some perfect shin deep right side up pow, punchy consolidated coastal moist/refrozen junk, dust on crust.

    The Salmons were fitted with my old Intuition high volume luxury liners molded for the mercuries but seemed to fit the shell quite well aside from vertical and lateral tightness in forefoot due to dramatically lower feeling volume in that part of the last. (mercs have been extensively punched to accomodate wider forefoot)

    My love affair with Mercuries for general ‘hiking boot’ utility has now been transposed to the Salomon Mtn. labs. With all buckles open and bails positioned on last wrung of the buckle ladders, both boots featured full and easy forward and of course, rear ROM. I was surprised that after carpet testing at home seemed to favor the mercury for more textbook rom, that in the field, the Mtn. labs felt similar and for my anatomy, a bit smoother at the max range of ankle fold. Rear ROM also felt subjectively perfectly adequate, in the true testing of hiking down steep more firm slippy frozen mud and striding on flats while skinning. Both boots aren’t exactly supple like perfectly designed and fitting hiking boots but perfectly acceptable for high downhill performance ski touring boots.

    Downhill skiing results were equally pleasing. With Merc on one foot and Solly on the other, there were many turns where I forgot which boot was which…which is a good thing as the Mercuries have been tuned to a exceptional feeling downhill skiing performance. I ski with the powerstrap of the Mercs snugged tight on the liner as opposed to over the cuff plastic and this provides the best feeling forward flex characteristics for me. The Sollies felt just a bit more ‘refined’ in the skiing feel. A bit quicker edge to edge, a bit more progressive flex and a bit more support deeper into the flex range, rear support a bit stronger.

    Stance angle wise they also felt similar with perhaps a hair more subjective forward ramp internally in the Sollies but forward lean was well matched. Cuff alignment wise, the Sollies seemed a bit more neutral than the slightly bow legged favoring Mercuries (which has been adjusted for feeling ‘correct’) which matched my personal physiology more synergistically allowing for a bit more precise baby toe inside ski edge pressure application and nuancy feel and conversely a bit of a perception of outside ski edge control feeling less aggressive at turn initiation and easier to subtly progressively engage the ski tip.

    In other areas of real world use…well, there is something to be said for ease of use. The Salomon buckles are slick and super easy to use. The ski walk mode has the refined, precise feel of opening or closing the door of a B.M.W. The cam-lock thingy powerstrap is a game changer…hard to believe companies used velcro for so long in hindsight! Very easy to engage and micro fine tune for perfect top of cuff ‘feel’, offers great snugness/support and easy to to one finger push button release.

    Sorry for the thread drift but I get so excited about ski boots I just had to contribute my 2 canadian cents.

  6. Lou Dawson 2 November 4th, 2015 12:50 pm

    Swiss, that kind of real-world comment is gold, really appreciate it. Lou

  7. Ben W November 4th, 2015 12:57 pm

    Any word on whether a manual walk mode Scarpa F1 is coming to the USA?

  8. Jason November 4th, 2015 1:38 pm

    Hi Lou,

    Unfortunately my local shop only has the men’s Backland Carbon and the women’s Backland but I just realized that I might be able to get into a 27/27.5 shell so maybe there is some hope of trying the women’s boot to carpet test the flex.

    From what I can find online it looks like the regular version and the Carbon version have the same weight which is what gives me hope that the regular version might be softer similar to how the TLT6 mountain and performance versions are. I’ve also seen a few notes that the Carbon version has some carbon content in the grilamid shoe that isn’t mentioned in the regular Backlands.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to try boots on tomorrow after work.

    Any thoughts on the crampon heel lever with the shape of the Backland forward lean lock?

  9. Brian November 4th, 2015 1:54 pm

    Haven’t had a problem with the Backland ski mode lock and the lever on my Camp crampons. I spent a decent amount of days with both.

  10. etto November 4th, 2015 3:47 pm

    Anyone know how the Backland is with vs w/o tongue? Both for skinning and skiing. I played around with it in the shop, and the tongue seems to be a hassle to insert and remove compared to Dynafit.

  11. Jason November 4th, 2015 4:22 pm

    Thanks Brian! That’s good info since it’s probably a pair of CAMPs that’ll go on the AT boots the most.

  12. Thomas November 4th, 2015 8:17 pm

    Etto, I skinned the mountain here in steamboat a couple times last season in the Backlands. Up without the tongue was like a really heavy skate ski boot, which is to say it was awesome. The tongue is easy to take out or put back. Down w the tongue in on some Salomon q 105s was surprisingly stable and fun. Stiffer than I was expecting which allowed for railing on some dawn patrol corduroy. I am currently waiting for the pair I ordered to arrive at the shop.

  13. Dave - Tahoe Mtn November 4th, 2015 10:55 pm

    Great review guys! Will this be on the podcast too? Keep up the good work and ski with ya soon!
    -Dave, TMS

  14. Eric Rentschler November 5th, 2015 7:07 am

    Do you guys think I’d be insane to use a ski as wide as 105mm with the Backland Carbon boot for British Columbia touring?

  15. Lou Dawson 2 November 5th, 2015 7:20 am

    Eric, it might be crazy, but it’ll keep you from going insane.

    Seriously, if the boot fit you well and you skied with the tongues in, and your style of skiing doesn’t involve a lot of forward boot leverage, riding a ski that wide shouldn’t be a problem. On the other hand, I’m a big advocate of being careful with insane boot-binding-ski combinations so I’d advise you to look carefully at your style and intended goals before mixing up gear. Less boot on a big ski results in a speed limit, for example.


  16. swissiphic November 5th, 2015 8:59 am

    RE: ‘anemic’ boots with fat skis combos. Live in northwest B.C. and have a ski buddy that skis dps lotus spoon 138 in a 192cm length, Wailer 112 rp2 184’s and a variety of other skinnier sticks with dynafit tlt 6p on one foot and 5p on the other since he broke one of the the 6’s. No he’s not railing groomers with that setup but skis all backcountry conditions with it no problemo and considering how much he’s hootin’ and hollerin’ on the down seems to be having a pretty good time with it. He’s a damn fine skier though, high skill level and cat like balance.

  17. swissiphic November 5th, 2015 9:35 am

    In my own experience, and this is after very limited experience; limited testing seems to indicate that the fatter the ski, the less boot you need in certain conditions. For example, in punchy snow, upside down snow and breakable crusts; a fatter ski the planes over the garbage doesn’t rely on forward stiffness and support of a bigger boot to maintain good glisse. A skinnier ski variably and sometimes unpredictably punching through and deflecting seemed to result in a lesser boot being structurally challenged to a larger degree… would really need to do some A/B testing to get some better beta though…Wish I still had my old dynafit tlt 4s boots vs. my mercuries to truly hash this out…those old tlt 4s’s folded like tennis shoes without modded raichle flexon tongues added for more forward support. Would be very interesting to feel how their lateral support would hold out to the torque of fatter width skis as well.

  18. Lindahl November 5th, 2015 10:42 am

    swissiphic –

    I wholeheartedly agree with your theory and have found that to be true in practice with both the TLT5P (skied for a couple years) and Backland Carbon (skied last year).

    I own an extra extra stiff pure carbon ski shaped like the 4FRNT Renegade at 9lbs/pair. I specifically requested the extra extra stiffness, since I’ve found reverse camber skis work way better that way. The Backland Carbon has no problem driving this ski.

    Where you notice the lack of stiffness in my Backland Carbons over my Cochises, is not when layed over, but rather when punching through and driving a ski. The foreaft balance is the tricky part. In soft snow and crusts, a wider and especially stiffer ski generally helps here.

    In firm snow, I tend to drop down to a stiff 102mm ski. Not because the Backland boot cannot drive my fatter ski, but because theres too much ankle torque on a wider ski. I do this even when skiing my Cochise boots. Under 105-ish, I don’t really notice ankle torque anymore, probably because the ski is about as wide as my foot.

    Going under 100mm, you gain edge to edge quickness, which I only really care about on groomers. A narrower ski will also weigh less, so thats an obvious benefit, but the difference at this point is quite small, if construction is the same.

    I personally don’t see a reason to go under 100mm for a touring ski, unless your goal is ONLY the uphill (races and traverses). That, paired with a much fatter powder ski (~120mm) for deep days is about all I need from a touring quiver.

  19. Lindahl November 5th, 2015 10:52 am

    Speaking of the downhill capabilities of the Backland Carbon – the boot needs a better liner. Add a ProTour liner, put the powerstrap across the tongue of the liner, and the boot is quite capable. Touring performance in this configuration is pretty much the same, and weight difference is only tens of grams. The difference in downhill performance is huge, however, and well worth the trivial costs.

    Here’s a video of me skiing the boot, showing just how hard you can push it. Pardon the cell phone video (might be hard to see the cliff drop at start).

  20. Dave Field November 5th, 2015 11:08 am

    I like the tour/walk lever on the Salomon boot and wish I could retrofit something similar on my Mercurys. I like the flexibility of tour mode available with and without loosening the top of the cuff and the Dynafit “one buckle to rule them all” is awkward to coordinate with pants cuff. The dual function buckle makes sense for racing but not so much for general touring.

  21. VT skier November 5th, 2015 8:48 pm

    Are Salomon and Atomic using genuine Dynafit inserts in their boots now?

  22. etto November 6th, 2015 1:15 am

    Neither Atomic nor Salomon use genuine Dynafit inserts.

    Is anyone apart from Scarpa getting their inserts from Dynafit?

  23. Lou Dawson 2 November 6th, 2015 6:03 am

    Toe screws of Superlite 2 fall nearly exactly on the edge of H pattern. At the rear, the front set of screws fall within good area but rear pair fall on edge. Personally, with my style of skiing I’d mount them with inserts and be comfortable, but I’d not advise placing Superlite 2.0 on a Volkl ski with H mount pattern unless you know what you’re doing.

    By the way, how about taking a moment next time to find the correct thread for the question? We could use the help with that.


  24. Lou Dawson 2 November 6th, 2015 6:25 am

    Etto, same scold goes to you (grin).

    This thread covers Dynafit certified inserts specifically, check the comments there.


  25. Chris November 14th, 2015 2:27 pm

    Been skiing Backland Carbons for remainder of last season – found that grinding off the tongue tab really helps with its insert and removal. Also swapped liners for Intuition Pro Tour which tightened up the fit (I have low volume feet) and improved the cuff stiffness/power. I also run them with a Surefoot foam injected tongue for the added forward support over either the stock or Intuition tongue. With these mods the skiing performance is amazing.
    Walk is much smoother and free-er feeling than TLT6, and ability for the boot to really flex forward up a steep section of skintrack helps me stay balanced and not slide out. That forward ROM is something the Salomon Mtn Lab doesn’t have, that I noticed in the shop when I was trying it on. Maybe an issue for some, no so for others?
    Punched out my big toes and the Memory Fit material is much like Grilamid in how it punches (very easily and doesn’t rebound at all, so be careful).
    Using these boots with Carbon Convert 188 skis with Speed Radical bindings
    and so far it’s been an incredibly balanced setup.
    Just my 2 cents should anyone be considering these boots.

  26. Foster November 20th, 2015 10:33 am

    Got to ski the MTN Explore this past weekend in the Rockies.

    Some quick thoughts:
    -Coming off of F1 Evos this a bigger supportive boot, definitely a separate class so I wouldn’t compare them to any of the Backlands;
    -The MTN Explore is more comparable to the Maestrale/Maestrale RS class of boots;
    -Some comments about ‘swimming’ in the Explore’s 98 mm last on some reviews. Not sure who is doing that, but with a properly wide foot I need extensive punching;
    -Hiked great, supportive, and comfortable;

  27. matt December 5th, 2015 4:54 am

    Hi Lou,

    one question that has been on my mind given the current trend for non adjustable cuff alignment (simple pivot).
    Do you think the salomon mtm can be retro-fited with a Scarpa-style eccentric ?
    i saw a few posts in the past where you did modify a few garmont.
    I guess the main concern would be the ability to lock the boot once the alignment is done (I looked at dynafits closely and the rear buckle locking mechanism would prevent any alignment, unless the metal plate is modified).

    thks for your thoughts,as it is must for me, given the shape of my lower left leg!).


  28. Lou Dawson 2 December 5th, 2015 7:30 am

    Hi Matt, two things: 1.) Boots are so excellent these days, simply buying one with the alignment you need would seem to be a better option than time consuming mods. 2.) By using dense foam or other types of material on the side of the liner cuff you can conform to most alignment needs, duplicating or even doing better than cuff alignment, in my opinion.


  29. matt December 5th, 2015 8:00 am

    thks for your quick response!

    I will investigate the foam as the adjustment I need cannot be covered by production boots (unfortunately, as I have tried many 🙂 ).

    that being said, do you think it is technically possible to do a time consuming mod? i have not seen yet how the pivots are held inside the mtn.



  30. Lou Dawson 2 December 5th, 2015 10:03 am

    It’s possible to do the mods, problem is that most of the eccentric pivots really are not all that well designed, so you’re kind of throwing a lot of time into something that’s inherently limited. Really, just mod the liner… Lou

  31. matt December 6th, 2015 1:39 am

    thank you!


  32. Jim Milstein December 12th, 2015 6:50 pm

    Maiden outing in the Backland Carbon Lights today. Though the tongues were packed, I skied both up and down without them. Carpet testing indicated that I might like the softer tongueless forward flex. Edge control does not seem to be affected by the tongues. Skis are 171 cm Mythics (133/97/113). Started with 14″ of 12:1 powder, which was added to throughout the day.

    Uphill far exceeded my hopes. The range of motion and lack of resistance is phenomenal. The boots are light. I lost nearly a pound off my feet switching the BCLs for the Sportiva Siderals I’d been using. The boots and liners were cooked, making room for my long toes in a boot one shell size smaller. Pain on the instep in the uncooked boots disappeared. The heel fit is tight and precise–so tight and precise that it takes more effort to get into and out of the boots.

    But, do they ski? I could find no fault descending in deep soft snow. I liked the independent control over cuff buckle, power strap, and cuff lean lock. Buckle and lean lock are merged in the Sportiva boots.

    Oddly, my socks were damper afterwards, despite the breathable liners. No big deal. But an unexpected big deal is that the BCLs are relatively petite (for a ski boot). With the cuff loosely latched I can easily and comfortably drive wearing them. It’s great to boot up before leaving to ski and to de-boot back at my secret underground headquarters.

  33. See December 12th, 2015 8:29 pm

    Sorry, but I think driving in ski boots (for any distance, if not necessary) is idiotic. It’s not just one’s self that one endangers. I’ve never seen BCL’s, but I’m guessing they’re ski boots.

  34. See December 12th, 2015 8:34 pm

    By “for any distance,” I mean for anything beyond a short distance.

  35. Jim Milstein December 12th, 2015 8:54 pm

    It’s like driving in hiking boots, See. Not an idiot.

  36. See December 12th, 2015 9:03 pm

    Are they like skiing in hiking boots? (I don’t think you’re an idiot).

  37. See December 12th, 2015 9:14 pm

    I live and ski mostly in fairly densely populated areas. Maybe you don’t. I’m probably over-sensitive about this because I see so much bad driving.

  38. Jim Milstein December 12th, 2015 10:02 pm

    I live and ski near Wolf Creek Pass, famed in song and story.

    The BCLs do not ski at all like hiking boots. I’ve done that, so I’m not just guessing.

    If one’s footwear is small enough to operate a vehicle’s pedals without getting in each other’s way and without catching on anything nearby, what is the problem? I too see a lot of bad driving. Just today I saw a number of cars spun off the road and a jackknifed truck. Ski boots were not likely the cause of those unhappy events. Don’t jump to conclusions.

  39. See December 12th, 2015 10:24 pm

    OK. I admit, I don’t even like driving in hiking boots.

  40. See December 12th, 2015 10:41 pm

    And I apologize for my poor choice of words. I ski near Donner Pass (enough said).

  41. Jim Milstein December 12th, 2015 11:04 pm

    I’m with you, See. I like driving barefoot.

    I’ll see your Donner Pass, See, and raise you one Alferd Packer.

  42. Jim Milstein December 12th, 2015 11:06 pm

    Alferd was the guy who reputedly ate most of the Democrats in Hinsdale County, Colorado.

  43. See December 13th, 2015 9:49 am

    Jim, sorry about the rudeness. I still don’t think driving in ski boots is a great idea, but sitting around sniveling and coughing while it’s dumping in the mountains hasn’t helped my mood. (Currently contemplating this part of the Training for the New Alpinism review: “Illness” (pp85). Attention mountain town athletes who snivel and cough all winter, this section will open your eyes and perhaps save your immune system. Basically, you can’t train (or otherwise heavily exercise) when you’re sick. Period. Doing so does you no good..” Doesn’t really apply to me, but passing this cold along to my buddies probably not cool.)

    Anyway, thanks for the review. If I decide to try some super light boots this season, those BCL’s are at the top of my list

  44. Jim Milstein December 13th, 2015 5:05 pm

    Second day in Atomic BCLs. Flipped backing plates on lean lock mechanism to get a little more forward lean. Still skiing the boots w/o tongues. I found some windslab and skied it as a harsher test than luscious powder snow (life is hard!). The boots were fine in that snow condition.

    The old telemark skier in me likes a little softer forward flex. Lack of tongue does not seem to compromise edge control. I weigh less than 150 lb (68 Kg), which may have something to do with my boot flex preference.

    No problem, See. I can take a little pushback.

  45. Lou Dawson 2 December 13th, 2015 7:39 pm

    Nice Jim, thanks for letting us know how things are working. Lou

  46. Jim Milstein December 14th, 2015 11:51 am

    Post under Atomic BCL or Vipec?

    Normal Vipec heel adjustment is no gap between the square boss on the Vipec heel unit and the Dynafit boot heel thingy. However, boot heel sole shape on the ABCL is wrong for no gap. To allow stomping down for ski mode lock you have to have a gap of (eyeballing) about 3 mm. I haven’t had a problem skiing with it that way, but it seems like a good idea to mention this.

    With a Dremel you could grind the boot sole plastic and reduce the gap to spec. Any thoughts on whether this mod is necessary or a bad idea?

    A further note: the tinyness of the ABCL moved boot center forward four or five mm, which has been imperceptible in skiing, but I am an insensitive brute.

    And more: I compared the ABCL sole to my Altra trail shoe sole. The trail shoe is a little wider and much longer. This boot is small.

  47. Jim Milstein December 16th, 2015 9:58 pm

    Cold day, Cold powder.

    The ABCLs were, no surprise, not so warm as other boots I’ve had. Feet were cool, not cold. In addition to the liners being thin and lightweight, their openness (breathability) makes them a little less thermally efficient, I think. Transport of water vapor away from the foot is also transport of heat, the heat to vaporize the water.

    The cold new snow, as is often the case, was slow. I appreciated the great freedom of ankle movement when it was necessary to walk down low angle portions of the descent. So far, I’m still happy skiing the ABCLs w/o their tongues.

    If boots could talk, they’d want tongues. But they can’t.

  48. Jim Milstein April 14th, 2016 6:53 pm

    Final update on the Atomic BCLs after more than sixty days skiing in them. They’re still great! Still not using the tongues and I haven’t missed them. (I weigh 140+ lb)

    As for warmth, my feet have occasionally been cool, but never cold this season. They are not as warm as other boots/liners I’ve had in the last couple of decades.

    My single concern is that the buckles are just about at the end of their adjustment for my skinny feet and ankles. This is surprising since I went down one shell size for this boot. The baking made a too short shell fit my long toed feet. If the boots get a little looser when buckled down, I’ll have to add more sock, I guess.

  49. Lou Dawson 2 April 15th, 2016 8:41 am

    Jim, could you re-locate the buckles to take care of the problem?

  50. John Townsend October 15th, 2016 5:19 pm

    I’m thinking about getting a pair of Salomon Explore boots since I have both tech bindings and some Fritschi bindings- I need both tech fittings and enough lug front and back to hold in the older bindings.
    What type of bindings did you use during your test? Did you have any issues with binding / boot connections?

  51. Lou Dawson 2 October 16th, 2016 5:51 am

    Hi John, I doubt Doug used anything but tech bindings, likewise, myself. But I’m 99.9 certain that the Explore boot will work in your Fritschi bindings, but be sure to bench test the boots before molding the liners, so you can return the boots to the retailer if they tend to act funny in the bindings. Here in my studio, playing with frame bindings, I’ve found that it’s not only the boot sole shape that can influence how the binding performs, but preferred release value settings (RV, DIN) have a part since the retention of the binding is coupled to the release settings. Thus, sometimes a lower RV can result in the binding return to center “force, tension” not overcoming various sources of friction between binding and boot. Lou

  52. Phil Evanson October 25th, 2016 12:18 pm

    Regarding the Backland boots: For those people needing a narrower fit in the ankle area, I heated the shells and formed the ankle area tighter by just a applying pressure to both sides of the ankle at the hinge. It worked great.
    Another advantage to memory fit.


  53. Michelle November 29th, 2016 10:33 pm

    Does anyone know if the Backland carbon ladies boot for this year skis the same as the men’s? I’m considering it after reading all the comments here. However I have DPS with 112 under foot and do enjoy the descent. Thus if the women’s doesn’t have the same support, probably not the best choice. I am slightly concerned about the height of the liner but getting convinced after reading reviews. Thoughts welcome.

  54. Brandon July 1st, 2017 10:19 am

    So do you think the salomon mtn explore is sufficient driving voile V8

  55. Lou Dawson 2 July 1st, 2017 11:11 am

    For most people it would be fine, but depends on what you want out of the rig. These kinds of questions require a little more information… This is like some guy on a truck forum simply asking if he should buy a 1/2 ton or something else, with no other information about what he does, what kind of loads he hauls, style and location of driving the truck, even age and gender. Lou

  56. Jim Milstein December 17th, 2018 8:42 pm

    The Atomic Backland Carbon Light has been discontinued. Any idea why? The Atomic Backland Carbon is still current.

    After three years skiing the ABCLs without tongues, I thought to try the tongues. They had no big effect skiing uphill, but I found the boots a little too stiff on the descents. I am a reformed telemark skier, and that fact probably explains why I prefer a softer flex.

    Don’t forget my question: Why are the ABC Lights discontinued? Good boots!

  57. Pablo December 18th, 2018 1:29 am

    ABCLs are discontinued because they were pretty similar to ABC without tongues.
    In it’s place there is the Atomic Backland Ultimate wich is lighter and a more skimo racing-oriented boot. It has the tipical lever to lock/unlock and open the cuff at the same time, No tongues and a lighter liner.

  58. Jim Milstein December 18th, 2018 9:19 am

    Thanks for the info, Pablo.

    I’ll stay with the ABCLs until a boot at least as good but significantly lighter is on offer. With footbed my size 27.5 boot is 1100 g. Next boot will have to be at least 225 g less massive, but remain wonderful in all ways.

    This is one of the big reasons I switched from tele to AT. Lots of ongoing gear improvement. Tele got stalled. Also, I’m getting enough older to really notice it, and I need all the help I can get. Compared to tele, AT is cheating.

  59. Jim Milstein January 3rd, 2019 9:05 pm

    Atomic Backland Carbon Light repair question. The gaiters are tearing. Does anyone replace them? I can wait until the end of this season. It looks like the easiest thing to do would be to cut out the old ones and glue new fabric on top of the old where it’s welded to the shell. If Atomic does that or something better, fine. Otherwise, do any boot repair shops still exist? If so, where?

  60. Royal January 4th, 2019 12:16 pm

    I have the same issue with some ablc’s. An email to atomic customer service last year asking about repair or obtaining replacement fabric so I could self repair went unanswered. Let us know what you end up doing?

  61. Jim Milstein January 4th, 2019 5:31 pm

    The shop where I bought them contacted Atomic and here is the response:

    “I just wanted to let you know that I talked with somebody at Atomic about your ski boot and they informed me that it is out of warranty since it was purchased in 2015 and that there is nothing they can do. Sorry about that, just passing along the message.”

    That is a sorry situation. An expensive boot ought to be repairable. Of course it is. The question is who can do it, or how do I do it? I suppose I can improvise.

  62. Jim Milstein January 4th, 2019 5:34 pm

    Here’s my plan: Cut out the old gaiter material, and glue in one hundred dollar bills in their place.

  63. Nate Porter January 4th, 2019 6:48 pm

    Mine tore in such a way that there is enough fabric left where it attaches to the shell that I think the tear could be hand sewn. Maybe a layer of seam grip or shoe goo rubbed into the stitch…

  64. Lou Dawson 2 January 5th, 2019 9:52 am

    The way to fix a tear is probably first glue a patch on with Seam Grip, then stitch around the edges. Just thinking outloud. Lou

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